By Darcy Cudmore
Feb. 11, 2016
Jonathan Torrens is probably best known for playing J-Roc on the Trailer Park Boys.
Jeremy Taggart was the drummer for Our Lady Peace from 1993 to 2014.
But as I let myself in through the sliding metal door dividing the bar from the back room at the P.E.I. Brewing Company on this night, Torrens and Taggart are on stage preparing to host a live show in support of their podcast.
“Hey bud,” Torrens said as I entered the large, empty room.
It’s more of a ‘bahd’ though, a spelling they have made popular through the podcast, along with the word Canadianity. They say the latter is a celebration of everything Canada.
Torrens had to make a last minute trip downtown and asked if I’d like to come along.
Outside the brewery, we hopped into his truck and began to drive. I asked him how the tour has gone.
“Pass,” Torrens said. “I get one pass an interview and I want to burn it early.”
He is as funny in person as he is on the podcast, which features over 50 episodes.
Now it is taking Taggart and Torrens to stages across the country.
In November, they did 11 shows in 12 nights, starting in Saskatchewan and ending in Ontario.
That done, they’ve headed east for five shows in five nights in Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton and Fredericton.
The podcast began with no plan of a live show, Torrens said.
“This whole thing has kind of been like the cart guiding the horse. We didn’t really have a plan when we started doing the podcast.
“The idea of doing it in front of a live audience presented itself first at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and it’s been unbelievable to kind of figure out, as a challenge, what works live and what doesn’t.”
Torrens got his start on CBC’s Street Cents and Jonovision in the 1990s. More recently he starred in the Trailer Park Boys and Mr. D. These shows offer him a creative outlet, but there are often months between shooting and release.
In today’s social media age, he wanted more immediate feedback.
“Podcast purists are kind of not shy about telling you what they like,” he said.
“The more stream-of-consciousness feel the podcast has, warts and all, the more people are like yeah, it’s that, ‘I want to feel like I’m in the backseat listening to you guys in the car on a road trip.’
“The more slick it is, the more it doesn’t resonate.”
We arrived back at the brewery and met Taggart backstage. He turned on a playlist of Canadian songs for people arriving.
He has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the podcast.
“We didn’t expect people to be catching on to the phrases like ‘bahd’ and ‘burling’ and all this stuff that we talk about. We started out with the idea that if it starts to grow, we can do live shows and that’s definitely turned out to be the way.”
Along with the weekly podcast episodes and the recent tour, they are working on a book. It is a celebration of the clichés of being Canadian, Torrens said.
“It is tales from the road. Jeremy’s travelled the country extensively. I have to with Street Cents and Jonovision and stuff like that. It’s kind of a travel guide.
“I keep thinking of it as Canadianity for Dummies. Like if you were a Martian, they’d give you this book with your passport.”
They expect to release it this fall.
Twenty minutes before show time I stood up and said goodbye. Taggart was calm and collected. He has been in this situation hundreds of times before. Torrens was giddy and antsy, excited about the new opportunity this project has presented.
“Enjoy the show, bahd,” he said as I walked back out into the big room, now filled with hundreds of people.